5 Ways to Tell it's Time to Switch Car Insurance Companies
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Many people tend to stick with their car insurance company for a long time because it can be a hassle to change providers. In fact, the average driver hasn’t changed their car insurance company in 12 years. About a third of all drivers don’t even bother to shop for quotes.
While it may take a bit of research and time, switching providers could be the right decision for you. Here are the top five ways to know when to switch car insurance companies.
You See an Unexpected Increase in Your Car Insurance Premiums
An unexpected premium increase can put a dent in your pocketbook. But if you have a good driving record and feel that this increase is unwarranted, you should consider shopping around for alternatives.
Price optimization represents one practice to look out for from your car insurance company. Price optimization uses data-mining techniques to determine which customers can absorb an increase in their premiums and remain loyal. If you notice an unexpected premium increase, especially at renewal time, ask your car insurance company for an explanation. If you do not like the answer, this is when to switch car insurance companies.
Your Car Insurance Is up for Renewal
Renewal time represents a perfect opportunity to switch car insurance companies. When swapping carriers, make sure to:
- Take into account the time it takes to switch from one plan to another
- Take into account any gaps in your coverage so you don’t end up driving uninsured
- Acquire at least the minimum coverage level in your state
- Take into account any cancellation fees your car insurance company charges if you decide to cancel your policy early
Keep in mind that you can switch car insurance companies at any time. If you find yourself in the middle of a coverage period, check with the insurance company you plan on leaving and see if you qualify for a prorated refund for the time you’ve already paid for. If you plan on leaving due to the cost of your car insurance, talk with your company first to see if they can adjust your premium to give you a better deal.
You Experience a Change in Your Personal Status
Any time you experience a change in your life status, you can expect changes in the price of your premium. A change in status represents a great time to switch to a more cost-effective car insurance plan.
If you’re wondering when to switch car insurance companies, some of the following life events might prompt a change in your premium:
- Getting married or divorced
- Buying a car
- Buying a home
- Having a child
- Having a teen start driving
You Have a Bad Customer Service Experience
A bad customer service experience represents one of the main reasons why people switch insurers. Before switching to another insurer, though, make sure to check online reviews of the company and ask questions about the level of service they provide. This helps to prevent you from switching to a car insurance company that offers the same level of poor service, or worse.
You Experience Delays in the Claims Process
Delays in the claim settlement process might be a sign if you’re wondering when to switch car insurance companies. The claims process takes different lengths of time, depending on the claim type and the amount of damage to your vehicle.
Most car insurance companies attempt to settle a claim as quickly as possible, usually within 30 days of an accident. Accidents with injuries involved may take longer, as they require more investigation.
The different types of car insurance claims include:
- Roadside assistance claim: Most insurance companies pay for roadside assistance without you needing to pay out of pocket. If you do need to wait for reimbursement, you usually only have to wait five to eight days before receiving a check in the mail.
- Glass claim: Most insurers handle glass claims fairly quickly, within the day or week. If the glass company needs to order the glass, then it could take longer.
- Physical damage claim: After physical accidents, it usually takes one to three days after filing a claim to hear from the insurance adjuster. If the adjuster needs to inspect the damage, add a few more days. Using a body shop approved by your insurer speeds things up, but expect the whole process to take one to two weeks from start to finish.
- Total loss claim: A total loss claim requires more than the usual amount of paperwork, as you and the insurance company need to come to an agreement on the payout amount. In extreme cases, a total loss claim can take up to 30 days to process and finalize.
- Medical claim: Medical claims take the longest to process because they involve the doctor’s office and/or hospital. After you initially fill out paperwork, others handle the claims process afterwards, especially if you need to go to court to sue for damages.